What does it mean for God to do a new thing?
Seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote,
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
In the thirty-nine years that I have been following hard after Jesus, He’s done quite a few new things in me. I came into adulthood a rather calcified shell. Shame and criticism flowed freely through my home. By the time I was an adult, I felt ashamed for being so sensitive, ashamed for being smart, ashamed for not standing up for myself, ashamed for failing to be perfect.
Because the shame was so suffocating and so pervasive, I shut down emotionally. I lost track of my heart. Over time, my false self became so meticulously crafted that I would sometimes forget who I was and do or say things I later regretted. Which of course led to more shame.
Becoming born again has been a process—a very long process—for me. There was a specific moment in the car on the way back to college freshman year when I finally realized I could no longer deny the existence of God even though I really had no idea who Jesus was or how this decision would affect me.
That small, seemingly insignificant yes that I dared not speak out loud changed the trajectory of my life.
God spoke the following words to the people of Israel through another Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel:
I will give you a new heart,
and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart
and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ez. 36:26)
Those words were like oxygen to me. They revealed that God knew. He knew my struggle. He knew my shame. He knew I longed to reconnect with what had been a tender and responsive heart.
I wish I could say all it took was one simple prayer or one confessed sin or one session in the counselor’s office. No. It has been an interminably slow process that’s included all of the above but also wild, angry tears and seasons of paralyzing despair.
There have been changes. I can now name my feelings in real time (rather than days later when any opportunity for vulnerability has passed). I’m no longer ruled by fear. Most days, I walk in hope.
God has done a new thing. He has cut a pathway through the wilderness of my heart and streams of living water freely flow through it. I don’t know how many more years I’ll have on this planet but my prayer is that the river will grow wider and deeper, and in the process, consume my dry wastelands, making a way for whatever God intends to do in and through me.
Photo credit: Pixaby, Emilia Baczynska